Can horses really teach us to be better human beings? In this groundbreaking work, you will discover that the answer is a resounding "Yes". While working with severely disturbed youths, therapists Adele and Deborah McCormick discovered the best healers were their herd of Peruvian Paso horses. Through their work with horses, the McCormicks' patients were initiated into the hidden world of animal energy and instinct, and found a safe and natural way to learn about their own dualistic natures. Patients learned to tap into their primal "animal" mind and energies and apply them toward more creative and responsible living. What took days or months to uncover in an office setting took onyl minutes when patients were on a horse. You will read case after fascinating case of people discarded by society and the psychiatric community whose lives were turned around by the intuitive guidance and friendship of their equine therapists.
|Publisher:||Health Communications, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.56(d)|
About the Author
Adele von Rust McCormick, Ph.D. and Marlena Deborah McCormick, Ph.D., have been psychotherapists for over 30 years. Currently, they are co-direectors of the Institute for Conscious/Awareness and co-founders of the Three Eagles Equine Experience in Calistoga, California.
Read an Excerpt
There is no secret so close
as that between a rider
and his horse.
Surtees, circa 800 a.d.
Since childhood we have all had encounters with the Classic Horse. It is the horse of our dreams, fanciful and airborne, with a long flowing mane and tail. Its nostrils flare, displaying an inner spirit as magnificent as the mighty wind. It is the waves of the ocean and the fire of the setting sun. It saves us from the world. This mythic horse has marched forever through time with humans. This enduring image is a catalyst, opening us up to new horizons and teaching us about our inner feelings, the doorway to intuition. The Classic Horse rings in our psyche like a church bell; its overtones reverberate and linger, long after the bell has rung.
No one knows how our friendship with the horse began, but we do know a deep affection and camaraderie exist. Throughout time horses have been powerful archetypes, giving humans direction as they venture into the labyrinths of the soul. Over the centuries horses, being natural travelers, have faithfully accompanied people on journeys, external and internal. The horse has willingly carried us to faraway places, to enchanted castles, to and from battle, and even to the grave. It has accompanied us to new frontiers and joined us on heroic adventures.
The ancient Celts, Greeks, Indo-Europeans, Iberians, Berbers, Persians and Asians knew horses embodied a healing metaphor and reflected that belief in the rich mythology surrounding horses. The ancients called them messengers between ourselves and the divine, companions to the gods.
Even today urbanization has not killed human affinity for this mythic horse. Its mystery, allure and healing attributes live on. We discovered that involvement with real horses, particularly ancient breeds like the Iberians, stimulate this age-old archetype. In modern times the lore surrounding Iberian horses continues unabated. In Portugal, the horse is revered as the "Son of the Wind" who came out of the sea from the lost continent of Atlantis and is imbued with the same magical qualities as its ancestor, the unicorn. Aware or not, humankind has been raised on these horse stories and they are an inseparable part of the human psyche. Remember Black Beauty, the Black Stallion, Roy Rogers and Trigger, the Red Pony, and the great El Cid? The Classic Horse awakens the human heart to the essence of a love the ancient Greeks called agapea complete and all-encompassing love of the creator and the created, a love difficult to practice as it is so selfless. Yet we can grow closer to it if we listen to the voice of the Classic Horse.
One can ride this horse in spirit only. You can ride, watch, read, imagine or just think about this Classic Horse, and during times of stress summon it as a source of comfort and guidance. Close your eyes and see yourself in the saddle of this strong and noble animal. When you do, you become strong and majestic as well. Listen to its hooves hitting the ground, a living drum. Each hoof-beat resounds in a four-beat quatrain, the rhythm many great poets use to turn words into music. Listen to what the horse is saying to you. Ride up and down the valleys, in the meadows, beside streams, through vineyards and where the mustard grows. Notice the ever-changing scenery, the vastness and the beauty of nature.
As you read on, continue to imagine yourself with a horse. Its knowing eyes, the way it runs to you, its size as well as its gentility. You feel this friendship is a privilege. Whisper and receive acknowledgment. As the horse knickers and prances to you, you feel special. It is with you to warn of impending danger and defend you in times of need.
Most important, listen to the breathing and heartbeat of your gallant horse. What color is it, how does it hold its head? Turn this into your own power-guided imagery. Now open your eyes, take deep breaths, and read on.
This book is a way to enter the real and fanciful world of Classic Horses and understand their longstanding spiritual relationship with humankind. When the rider or participant resonates feelings with a horse, healing occurs. The healing relationship is a reciprocal one in body and spirit. Through the mind/body connection, horses help and invigorate many people from all walks of life, whether couples, individuals or people in business, whether under stress or advancing in spiritual development. What more wonderful way to actually enter a myth or a legend and become part of the herd than on the back of a noble horse? There we can begin to loosen our mechanical materialism and soften to the voices of nature, the psyche of the cosmos. When we give up control and let the horse be our guide, we can rediscover our souls.
In our equine program, we use Spanish-Peruvian horses as the breed of choice because they are ancient, loving, intelligent and expressive, and have a smooth, natural gait. The bounce-free ride, as opposed to the jarring motion of the trot, helps new riders feel more comfortable in the saddle. As one sits centered on this horse, whether real or imagined, one moves into a meditative state.
In every age, individuals looking to expand their experience have undertaken a pilgrimage. The trials and tribulations encountered along the way shape their character. In our world we seldom have an opportunity for such transformative journeys. The Equine Experience is one such avenue. The people you'll meet in this book have ventured down this road, and the lessons learned are memorable. Many tell us that horses, being heroic by nature, stir something new inside and inspire a quest for the divine.
The horse acts as a mirror, reflecting us back to ourselves, and thus is a powerful assistant in the pursuit of self-realization. Many people who experience this firsthand come away feeling something uncanny has happened. It is a concrete way to see universal forces at work within our being. What we uncover is our own inner essence in bold, living color.
One very capable professional woman was overly demanding with others. Supercilious around her family, she was driving them away. Paula's competency over the years had made her impatient with their shortcomings. Hoping to bring the family closer together, she decided to get a Peruvian horse for recreation. Up until that time, she felt superior and flawless. However, the sweet Peruvian gelding performed for everyone in the family except her. In consultation with us, we watched her ride. Off a horse she was composed and competent. On a horse, it was a different story. The horse knew she was faking it. The minute Paula mounted, her back stiffened. She bounced up and down in the saddle like a pogo stick, and so did the horse.
Riding always uncovers a mind/body connection. Paula's intellect could cover her apprehension and lack of confidence, but her body exposed her inner fear. Once she could see her fear via the jerky movements of the horse, her denial vanished. She became more humble, human and easier to live with.
Sam, a middle-aged man, had been taking lessons with us for some time and loved the horses. During this time his wife became terminally ill, and he was very worried. Horses became the highlight of his week, giving him the emotional fuel to carry on his caretaking role. Sam never wanted to burden anyone with his problems but was on the verge of complete exhaustion. He carried his load silently and stoically, forgetting to attend to any of his own feelings and needs. When friends asked if they could help, he always said, "No, everything is all right, everything is under control."
While taking a lesson one day he was having trouble getting the mare to go straight. She would weave in and out and then speed up and slow down. She was not dangerous but was frantic and inconsistent. Saying very little, we waited. Sam stopped the horse and said, "I can hide my anxiety from everyone, but not from the horses. Whenever I am with the horses they know how I feel. She knows I am terrified about what is happening in my life, even if I can't admit it."
In watching horses we found that when they are content and relaxed, we also feel relaxed. When they get excited, we get excited. For a variety of reasons, we humans are captivated by them. Spellbound by their graceful movement and boundless spirit, strong waves of energy are exchanged by way of intense identification. Most people can be moved by simply observing horses. This awareness led us to make films of horses for people who are shut in and can't leave their beds, houses or institutions. Many of these people say the films carry them into a dimension of peace and joy, even when troubled, and that they savor the experience and come away feeling their life is more enriched. People who have shut the world out can develop trust, motivation and hope through this medium. It reconnects them to nature and brings in the world. After watching the films, many want to make a trip to see the horses "in person."
Richard and Joseph were both invalids who had been shut-ins for years. They both had debilitating illnesses, and their world had become very confined. Richard suffered from massive heart failure, and Joseph, severe arthritis. Joseph needed an operation but could not leave Richard alone without care. Years ago, paralyzed by a fear of death, Richard gave up the idea of ever leaving his bed again. Both tried to stay mentally active in their one-room apartment. Keeping each other company was a big part of their day, along with watching movies, reading and studying metaphysics.
Sadly, most of their friends stopped coming over. Through our Circle of Light group, we started visiting with stories, pictures and videos of the horses. Over a period of time they began to know each horse by name and personality. They eagerly awaited news from the ranch, like the birth of a foal. Becoming very involved, they knew the horses as well as anyone. Yet as time went on they longed to "meet the horses" someday.
As this desire grew, Richard and Joseph started thinking differently about themselves and their lives. Richard is now in rehabilitation, learning to walk, so Joseph can have his operation. Their overriding goal is to visit the ranch and be with the horses. The vicarious experience sparked a desire within them to become active again. We learned that horses can have a strong affect on people even through the media. In this case the horses were enough to inspire Richard and Joseph to begin taking charge and to heal themselves.
Since horses communicate with their skin, we find that simply touching them also heals. The blind have experienced remarkable sensations from touching and petting them or putting their arms around their necks.
These experiences taught us that, regardless of people's circumstances, horses can be brought into their lives. Since we can communicate with horses in a multitude of waysmentally, physically, and through extrasensory perception, visualization and telepathythese alternative avenues work. Other authors and experts agree that the keen extrasensory abilities of horses make their healing powers nonlocal. Good trainers take this for granted and know that training continues in or out of the saddle, even during sleep and in dreams.
Margaret, a middle-aged woman taking lessons, said she had very deep and intimate conversations with her favorite gelding, Fredrico, while away from the ranch. The more they conversed and became familiar, the more relaxed she became. As Fredrico appeared more and more in her thoughts and fantasies, she found herself riding him mentally during the week. She progressed rapidly because she practiced in her mind, at home. Margaret found that as she became more simpatico with the horse, her own ability to intuit and visualize also grew.
We cannot stress enough that any true involvement with horses of any type will give you insight. Watching training, if not actually doing it yourself, can be a real eye-opener. Training a horse is all patience and heart, not intellect or force. Understanding comes from the heart, not the head. Training becomes a test for the trainer and in reality reveals more about the trainer than the horse. If we want to learn about our dark side, this is the test. Faced with challenges from the horse, we can see the imbalances in our dark and light natures. When we are tested, tried, humiliated, cajoled, what is our reaction? Do we become forgiving, patient and loving, or pompous, vengeful, weak and ineffectual? Whatever lurks inside always rears its ugly head. One trainer we encountered was so afraid of the horse's spirit and energy that he trained him to go backward instead of forward. Whenever the horse started to move ahead freely, he was taught to back up or stop. The result was a horse that push-pulled. He could never go forward without going back, nor could he move freely without thinking he should stop. The horse became confused and nervous because whatever he did was never "right." This particular trainer had a preoccupation with submission and dominance, indicative of a severe need to control. By contrast, some of the most artistic and talented trainers value a philosophy of interrelatedness and mutual respect. They first command respect by gaining the horse's attention. Teamwork and harmony are the basis of this method, and under these circumstances the horse becomes a willing partner and gives all. In observing training it is obvious how the trainer designs the horse's future. We do the same in our own lives.
Humans experience transitions in their lives. None of us are immune from these passages. Besides the milestones, enduring tragedy and coping with crises are features of living we all share in common. We have found that having a tangible metaphor, a living myth, helps us make the leaps of faith necessary to cope. With such myths, human trials can be less traumatic, and even amusing. The horse metaphor serves as a focal point to keep us centered and on track. By entering the world of natural instinct, we learn in an experiential way to judge for ourselves when we are straying too far. It offers us a yardstick to measure when our values are unnatural or too intellectual.
Most important, the metaphor shifts our attention from ourselves and solidifies an I-Thou orientation. Martin Buber developed this concept from a relationship he had with a horse he befriended in his youth. Branching out prevents us from becoming species-centric, thus increasing our empathy with the greater universe. Simply focusing our attention on ourselves and our problems to the exclusion of everything else reinforces our modern plague, narcissism. The horse liberates us from the confines of our ascribed roles because it is both fact and fiction. Through our identification with a horse we can learn about the natural and supernatural.
Working with horses has made it easier for us to handle life in general: stress, crises, death, terminal illnesses, vulnerabilities and a host of other trials. It has taught us to be more open, more malleable, and to approach life with a sense of adventure. We have also noticed that horses bring people together. They seem to know whom to bring into your life at the right moment, cementing relationships in a very profound way. Entering the world of the Classic Horse builds bridges between people of different cultures, religions and races, like a large extended family. The Equine Experience serves as a universal language, leading to new forms of dialogue, understanding and compassion. It takes work and love, but we can reach new heights of self-awareness and feelings by interacting with the Classic Horse, in the saddle or out. As you read this book, see what the horse archetype stimulates in you. By understanding its nature, you will better understand your own.
¬1997. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Horse Sense and the Human Heart by Adele con Rust McCormick, Ph.D. and Marlena Deborah McCormick, Ph.D. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Initally borrowed this book from library for my daughter who is expressing interest in going to college for equine therapy. I got my eyes into it first and loved it. Ill admit reading some of the client stories had me in tears. I have a dep respect and love for all animals and this book resonated with me on so many different levels. Hands down a uplifting and moving book. Thank you
IT'S NOT TO OFTEN THAT I BUY A BOOK THAT KEEPS ME WANTING TO KEEP READING IT AFTER THE FIRST CHAPTER BUT, THIS ONE HAS TAKEN ME PAST THAT FIRST ONE AND ALMOST TO THE END OF IT... I DO HAVE TO SAY THIS BOOK HAS MADE ALOT OF SINCE TO ME AND HOW TO DEAL WITH MY OWN PERSONAL LIFE IT'S SELF AND TO THINK THAT AT TIMES MY LIFE IS NOT AS BAD AS I THINK IT IS... THANK YOU FOR KEEPING ME GLUED TO THIS BOOK LADIE'S AND THANKS FOR GIVING ME THE WILL POWER TO GET SOME OUT SIDE HELP WITH SOME OF MY OWN PERSONAL FEELINGS THAT I HAVE KEPT DEEP INSIDE OF ME FOR SO MANY YEARS NOW...